New law removes limits on how many solar panels you can put on your roof

Minister for Housing signs planning exemption legislation to reduce red tape and increase generation of solar energy

Homeowners may now install unlimited solar panels on their rooftops without the need to seek planning permission.

On Friday, Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien signed new planning exemption laws into place, overhauling red tape around installation.

It means exemptions now also apply to the roofs of industrial buildings, business premises, community and educational buildings, places of worship, health buildings, libraries, certain public utility sites and farms.

The move does not afford carte blanche, however, with restrictions remaining in some circumstances, notably for developments near aviation sites, protected structures and in architectural conservation areas.

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As Ireland battles to meet carbon reduction targets, the laws are geared at increasing the generation of solar energy.

It is hoped up to 380MW of microgeneration capacity, or about one million solar panels, can be installed as part of Ireland’s overall solar targets under the Government’s Climate Action Plan.

That level of follow-through would generate more than 300GWh of renewable electricity each year, with the potential to cut 1.4 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent over the lifetime of the installations.

“We are removing barriers and ensuring that individuals, communities, businesses and farms can generate their own electricity, reduce their own bills and play their part in creating a zero-carbon future fuelled by renewable energy,” Mr O’Brien said, announcing the laws.

For domestic purposes, the regulations set no limit to the area on which solar panels can be fitted. A previous cap of 12sq m or half of a roof area has been scrapped.

However, for other buildings there are 43 designated “solar safeguarding zones” where limits remain. These are designed to mitigate the potential impact of glint and glare near airports and other sites with helipads such as hospitals.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times